Clarkstown Town Supervisor Alex Gromack said the town’s biggest concern is the extensive power outage following Hurricane Sandy. On late Tuesday afternoon, he said 22,000 out of the 32,000 Orange & Rockland residential customers in Clarkstown were without power. Throughout the town, traffic signals and street lights were not working, roads were still closed and almost 450 damage reports had been made.
Gromack said the travel restriction on Clarkstown streets was being lifted at 6 p.m. on Tuesday but he hoped people would stay at home. He cited the lack of functioning traffic signals and streetlights along a majority of the town’s roads as creating potential safety hazards for drivers.
“If people don’t absolutely have to drive, stay home,” he said.
He did not hold out much hope for quick restoration of power, noting that O&R had told government officials that it could take from seven to 12 or even 15 days before power returned to all 200,000 customers affected in Rockland County. Because of the potential length of the outage, Gromack said Senator David Carlucci asked Gov. Andrew Cuomo to provide National Guard members for traffic control in Clarkstown
Clarkstown Highway Superintendent Wayne Ballard described the storm’s impact on the roads.
“We have a total of 83 roads closed, most of them secondary,” he said. “36 of the roads are partially cleared.”
From overnight Monday to Tuesday morning, highway crews cleared downed trees and branches and other storm debris to open 91 roads. According to Ballard, crews have done what they can until O&R shuts off power and takes care of live wires. Most of the roads that remain closed are residential and have trees or branches that have fallen onto wires or knocked them down.
“It will go slower until O&R gets in there and gets wires out of the trees,” said Gromack.
Carlucci said he request 80 National Guard members be deployed to Rockland County with 30 of them assigned to Clarkstown for traffic control. The National Guard is assigned on a priority need basis and units are currently in New York City involved with search and rescue.
In addition to power outages, home and business owners suffered adverse effects from the storm with the Clarkstown Police Department receiving 437 reports of damage including 15 incidents of trees hitting houses. Chief Michael Sullivan said in two instances residents were injured were injured when trees fell on New City homes at 48 Grand Street and 21 Denver Drive.
Chief Sullivan said during the height of the hurricane at 9 p.m. Monday, he pulled officers off road patrols. He directed them to go to the local firehouses and respond to emergency calls from there. Additionally, the department had its armored vehicle and a paramedic on standby.
Councilman Frank Borelli led damage assessment tours of Clarkstown with police and other officials on Tuesday morning. They saw repeatedly saw hanging wires throughout the town.
“It was generally consistent from area to area,” said Borelli.
Gromack did not think O&R’s preparation or response was sufficient.
“I don’t think any of us are pleased with the response,” he said. “We would like to see more crews out there. We’re not at the level where think it should be.”
Town residents should call Clarkstown Police Dispatch at 845-639-5800 to report down wires and fallen trees.
The Pascack Community Center is the only community center open and will remain open until 10 p.m. Tuesday.
Garbage collection resumes on Wednesday, Oct. 31 and recycling pick up will resume on Thursday, Nov. 1.